BVI News

Premier mulls help from UK amid ‘significant’ cost

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith during the swearing-in ceremony this morning. Photo Credit: Andre ‘Shadow’ Dawson/BVI News Online

While stating that the cost of quickly restoring normality to the territory that was battered two weeks ago by a tropical wave is significant, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith today said he will discuss how best the United Kingdom (UK) government can assist.

Since the territory turned down the help offered by a United Kingdom Navy vessel that is in the Caribbean, questions have been raised as to whether the Smith administration wants the UK government involved in certain domestic matters.

However, during a speech delivered at the swearing-in ceremony for Governor Augustus Jaspert in the high court building this morning, Premier Smith opened up about external support.

“I look forward to discuss with you how the United Kingdom can best assist the territory in moving forward,” he told the new governor, while he thanked the UK government for the offer already made to support the recovery efforts.

Premier Smith also noted the timing of the new governor’s arrival.

“Your arrival comes in the early months of the hurricane season. This is particularly an active year and we are likely to see more storms and rains ahead. I hope neither will be as severe as the tropical wave on August 7, but we must be prepared,” Premier Smith further told the new governor.

“I look forward to working with you in our respective capacities to keep the territory in a high state of preparedness for the remainder of the hurricane season… I am confident that you will make a valuable contribution to the territory’s growth and development… I welcome you and look forward to working with you to support this territory’s recovery and its continued prosperity for generations to come,” Premier Smith further told Governor Jaspert.

The governor, over the years, serves as Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council, and has powers under law to declare a state of emergency in relation to a disaster.

Costly, but necessary

Meanwhile, Premier Smith, for the first time since the tropical wave, this morning gave an idea of the damage in terms of dollars and cents.

In relation to the rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructure, he declared: “This will come at a significant cost, but is necessary…”

Premier Smith noted the importance of infrastructure in ensuring that people, goods and services can move across the territory freely.

“The government and the private sector will have to move quickly to put the economy back on track,” the premier added.

He noted that an assessment is still underway to determine the true cost of losses incurred as a result of the tropical wave.

Works minister Mark Vanterpool, last week, disclosed that Premier Smith already met with representatives of the Caribbean Development Bank to discuss funding for the restoration process. Premier Smith this morning did not mention his meeting with the bank, but he hailed the overall recovery efforts made so far.

“The recovery efforts have progressed successfully through the combined efforts of Government agencies, the participation of our citizens in cleanup of their communities, the humanitarian work of the churches, and non-profit organizations,” added Premier Smith.

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